If you are not living by faith, you are not a CHRISTIAN. Yet many who CALL themselves Christian don't even know what it MEANS to live BY FAITH.
"Now the just shall live BY FAITH: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:38). But what IS faith? Many people, when they realize they must live by faith, make the mistake of confusing faith with EMOTION. Other people think they are exercising faith by looking for a sign. For example, some, even when praying to God, FEEL that God hears them and is going to answer that prayer because they have some emotional feeling or experience about it. They think this is a sign that God will answer. Other people try to "work up faith," which, to them, means an emotional feeling. They become so sentimental about it that they are convinced God will answer because of their human sanctimonious inner-conviction. Sentimentality, feelings and emotions ARE OF THE FLESH — not of the Spirit of God which is from ABOVE. These feelings of sentimentality are not evidence on which to base your faith. They are in the class of what can be seen, smelled, tasted or felt. But "FAITH is the CONFIDENCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN" (Heb. 11:1). Then, To LIVE BY FAITH DOES NOT MEAN that you go around with some sentimental FEELING, act in a sanctimonious manner which most people call "spiritual," or follow after physical or mental signs.
Acting on What We Know
Living by faith does not mean reasoning and supposing what God would have us do. It means we come to KNOW what God would have us do. We come to know God's will by diligent SEARCHING and STUDY of His Bible which instructs us in His WAY. Also through prayer to God that He will reveal to us HIS WILL. God has not made every minute DECISION for us. In many instances He has given us only the over-all principle. Through His Holy Spirit He then gives us the SOUNDNESS of mind by which we MUST APPLY that principle. After study and prayer, we step out in faith to make our decision, based on God's instructions and the understanding He has given us. We must TRUST Him IN FAITH not to hide, but to reveal the one correct solution to us. THIS IS ACTING ON FAITH. Faith is not merely what you need in order to have God answer your prayers — it is what you need in order to obey God. Faith is a gift of God to enable you to obey Him.
How Faith Works
The Holy Spirit comes into our minds to CLEAN US UP and replaces our human, carnal-mindedness with sound spiritual-mindedness. Jesus Christ actually comes into us and begins to live HIS LIFE in us (John 14:23; Rom. 8:9-11; I Cor. 3:16). Not only did He GIVE HIS LIFE in payment for the VILE SINS that you and I have committed, thereby reconciling us to God, but He comes into these vile, carnal minds and begins to CLEAN THEM UP of the FILTH that is there. The extent and manner of His love for us is truly WONDERFUL! Our part is to REPENT, not just of our foul deeds which we have committed in the past, but actually to repent of being the carnal, fleshly, sensual beings that we are. We need to want to be as God is. We must want to be AS GOD IS and NOT AS MAN IS so badly that we are willing to give up, to bury this old self, with all of its sensual pleasure seeking, and to cling and strive to KEEP NEAR TO GOD so that He will CONTINUE to come in and clean us up. He must renew our minds daily, that day by day our action, behavior, and thoughts parallel those thoughts and actions which are in the mind of Jesus Christ. This is, in fact, a marvelous spiritual CREATION which God IS PERFORMING. BY FAITH God creates in us a holy, spiritual character, which shall live for all eternity. BY FAITH WE must INDEPENDENTLY make the decision to let God create His Character in us. Our new mind must come to be COMPLETELY WITHIN THE LAW and pattern of behavior of the HOLY GODHEAD. The person who fails to step out on faith DAILY and HOURLY is weak and senseless. All that he is and all that he can ever be, is DEPENDENT UPON GOD.
What Our Job Is
The Church of God, which is the body of Jesus Christ, is given a COMMISSION. This commission is a job or a work to be performed by the Church as a whole. That commission is stated clearly in Matthew 28:19-20: to carry this GOSPEL to the world during this end time before the Kingdom of God shall be set up. And also, that the Church does feed and nourish the individuals within that Church on the Word of God (John 21:15-17, Acts 20:28). We are in the Church only if God the Father has GIVEN us of His Holy Spirit and PLACED us within the body of Jesus Christ. Now this body has many members as outlined in Romans 12:4-8. Not all of us have the same job; not all of us do the same things. But ALL of those in whom the Spirit of God resides ARE A PART OF THE BODY and all collectively will be working toward the over-all COMMISSION OF THE CHURCH. That member of the true Church who is living by faith will be active in his part of the over-all work of God. He will be praying diligently for the work as a whole, that the Gospel will go out in accordance with God's will in all the power and authority that God will allow. He will also be praying for the brethren's overcoming and growing in grace and knowledge. Our prayers should include the leaders whom God is using, that they might be inspired and rightly guided. Pray for the individuals within the Church, that they might be performing their calling so that the WHOLE Church is nourished and growing in every way of God. Christ's Message must go out to this DARKENED WORLD BEFORE this age ends in cataclysmic horror. The Church member who does not feel that calling and who is not actively doing his part will certainly FAIL in HIS calling. He lacks true purpose. He is without a goal. Those who are Co-Workers in the work of God should not overlook the importance of THEIR calling which is included in Romans 12 verse 8. God has actually called many to contribute of the POWER of their financial earnings. It takes much money to purchase radio time and equipment, and to sustain the growing staff working full time to complete Christ's commission! We can ALL take this admonition to heart and ACT on it IN FAITH. We should all give liberally (see margin reference verse 8) according to our ability. This also includes giving liberally of our time in prayer which is powerful and effective toward fulfilling our commission (Jas. 5:16).
To STEP OUT ON FAITH then, you must become aware of WHO God is. You must also be aware that GOD HAS OPENED YOUR EYES and set you in the Church, the body of Jesus Christ. That God is INTERESTED in you PERSONALLY and individually. You must realize that it is God's will to GIVE YOU HIS HOLY SPIRIT and to create in you PERFECT CHARACTER. You must also be aware that if you FAIL to HEED and OBEY properly, that you will have failed the TEST OF LIFE and shall DIE for all eternity. Through STUDY we KNOW what to HOPE for because God has revealed within His BIBLE what things shall be. FAITH in God will assure us that our hope shall certainly come to fruition and that the promises of God, which are not yet seen, are as sure as if they were standing before us right NOW. Then we will step out, guiding our actions according to the Word of God. As Solomon said in Eccles. 12:13, our duty is to fear God and keep His COMMANDMENTS — by faith. This is the kind of LIVING FAITH, which Paul wrote of in Hebrews 11, that is REQUIRED for salvation. It is the faith PROVED by WORKS. Works which involve STEPPING OUT, giving, helping, and otherwise guiding our lives, not by sight, or feel, or taste, but by the revealed laws of God. God's Word is SURE, and HE WILL NOT FAIL TO PERFORM IT once we learn to trust God in absolute faith.